The appeals court in Serbia’s capital city of Belgrade has ruled to overturn a lower court’s decision to extradite Tsvetan Vassilev, the former majority shareholder in Bulgaria’s Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), to authorities in Sofia, Bulgarian media reported on April 5, quoting a court spokesperson.
This was the second time that the appellate court has overturned an extradition ruling, having done so previously in March 2015.
Vassilev is wanted in connection to the investigation into the collapse of CCB in 2014. The investigation, which ended in February, resulted in charges against 18 individuals, with Vassilev accused of leading an organised crime group; a charge of embezzling cash, presumably referring to the 206 million leva (about 105 million euro) he was earlier accused of withdrawing from the bank between December 2011 and June 19 2014; as well as two other charges of embezzlement – one that claimed 95 instances and one that claimed 49 cases of embezzlement.
CCB, Bulgaria’s fourth largest lender before it was put under special supervision by the central bank in June 2014, had its banking licence repealed by the Bulgarian National Bank in November 2014 after it had to had to write down 4.22 billion leva in impaired assets following an audit.
Bulgarian authorities have been trying to secure Vassilev’s extradition for more than two years, having filed an extradition request in September 2014.
(For full coverage of the CCB situation from The Sofia Globe, click here. Photo of Vassilev from his personal website, vassilev.bg)